AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 31: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors looks on during the round 25 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

While plenty has changed since Shaun Johnson last pulled on a New Zealand Warriors jersey, head coach Nathan Brown believes the 31-year-old playmaker is a "far more valuable player" to the club the second time around.

Although the club's former colours of black, red and white have made way for the expansion side's inaugural, eye-catching scheme set in blue, the Pukanaing crest over Johnson's heart will be as familiar as a home-cooked meal.

Since departing Mount Smart at the cessation of the 2018 season, the Warriors' former wunderkind has both grown as a person away from the playing field, as well as learning through a myriad of peaks and troughs on it.

With 917 points to his name during his first eight seasons as a Warrior, the sensation who rose to prominence due to viral videos of his touch footy exploits has already left a legacy across the ditch.

Yet, with the prospect of, once again, calling Auckland home, Brown stressed that Johnson the man was far more important to his roster than any of his previous iterations ever were.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 24: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors in action during the round 24 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium on August 24, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

"With the experience Shaun has gained, not only through his playing over the years but also leaving New Zealand, getting married, having a child, all these things in life and playing for a different footy club, all these experiences help mould you," Brown told the club's media department. 

"We all change with experience, we all have faults, we all have strengths and weaknesses ... learning the art of controlling the speed of the game and kicking the ball and helping your teammates look good, that just comes with time for a lot of halves.

"I think Shaun will be a far more valuable player now for the Warriors because of the things he can do for the people around him and what he can do for the team."

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With 32 Test caps to his name and the experience gained from finals footy played both at home and abroad, the prospect of improvement from the smiling assassin is enough to have those who reside in 'Warriors Nation' out of their seats.

But irrespective of the fact that Johnson's CV has been built off the back of flash and dash, it is his ability to allow the likes of Reece Walsh and Chanel Harris-Tavita to show their wares that is the Aucklander's greatest contemporary strength.

"When Shaun was a younger kid he had to rely on brilliance and it’s hard to be brilliant all the time, but to play with control and kick well and help your teammates look good, that’s a part of his game that’s very moulded in him and consistent now," Brown continued.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 02: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors scores a try during the round 17 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Gold Coast Titans at Mt Smart Stadium on July 2, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

The third-year steward went on to explain that even though those expecting the playmaker to continue digging deep from his bag of tricks may be left disappointed, a considered approach from Johnson was all that was being asked for.

"It doesn’t really matter what people expect or say about him we can be pretty confident that most weeks he’ll get that right because that’s what he bases his game on now," Brown added.

"If you base your game on brilliance it’s very hard to be brilliant every week when you’re playing very good teams and very good coaches, and when you’re not brilliant people are quick to let you know you’re not.

"Shaun's skill set is so different to what it used to be and those things hold up in big games when we need him most, helping his teammates look better and controlling the pace of the game."

Johnson will run out with his home town team on Saturday evening for the first time since the Warriors' 27-12 elimination final loss to Penrith in 2018.

Kick-off in New Zealand's Sunshine Coast stoush against St George Illawarra is scheduled for 5:30 pm local time and at 6:30 pm for those tuning in from the Shaky Isles.